The Climate & Sustainability Action (2017-2020) sets two long-term targets: achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and attain a Platinum sustainability rating by 2030. These targets are meant to keep us on track to improve our sustainability performance and lower our greenhouse gas emissions well into the future.
Carbon neutrality is a process that is intended to achieve net zero greenhouse gases by two means: 1) eliminating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions wherever feasible, and 2) implementing a combination of carbon sequestration and carbon offsetting initiatives for the equivalent amount released. Therefore, the three considerations of carbon neutrality are, in order of priority: GHG reductions, carbon sequestration, and carbon offsets. In the Climate & Sustainability Action Plan, we focus first and foremost on reducing rather than offsetting carbon.
McGill, as a world-class research and teaching institution, is characterized by high energy intensity, a travelling population and a sizeable carbon footprint. In 2015, we emitted 54,060 tonnes of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) per year. Between 1990 and 2015, we reduced our total emissions by 12%. How- ever, both Scope 2 and 3 emissions have increased due to growth in McGill’s population. Scope 1 has been the only area of reduction, and is currently 25% lower than it was in 1990. McGill’s annual Greenhouse Gas Inventories provide historical and current information, and indicate how McGill’s emissions have evolved.
McGill aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040, with an intermediate target of reducing our GHG emissions by 58% by 2025 compared to 1990 levels and the aforementioned recurring 3-year target review cycles. In addition, the 2016 – 2021 phase of McGill’s Energy Management Plan includes a 64% GHG reduction target below 1990 by 2021 for building energy consumption.
Platinum Sustainability Rating
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) is a North American association of over 1000 colleges and universities working to create a sustainable future. AASHE oversees the Sustainability Tracking and Reporting System (STARS), a transparent, voluntary system for higher education institutions built by higher education institutions to understand their sustainability performance and the areas where they could improve.
McGill reported to STARS in 2016 and earned a Gold sustainability rating with a score of 72.63. Compared to peer universities who have reported to STARS, McGill’s sustainability strengths lie in curriculum and research, dining services, and purchasing.
McGill aims to attain a Platinum sustainability rating by 2030, with an intermediate target of reaching a score of 78 by 2020.